Valentines – Upcycle love

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I can’t get no loving anywhere else so I guess I’ll love up on my clothes! I’m just kidding. There is tons of love in my life, just not currently coming from a romantic relationship. I know I’m where I am supposed to be. I’ve learned that love is far too complicated to understand and that I’ll just keep loving how I love and it will be the right thing. I know my plan is far bigger than I can even wrap my head around and I know that I’m not the one in charge. So for now I’ll get my love where I can get it and a whole lot of it comes from my family and friends.

This is an up-cycle post, and I will get there, but I want to start somewhere else first. I have to admit that I am one of those crazy women who are all about the LuLaRoe craze. Now I don’t have 35 pair of leggings or 25 shirts or anything to that extent, but I am a fan of the brand and have multiple pieces. Yes I think the leggings are incredibly soft, but no I don’t think they feel like butter. Butter is gooey to me and leggings are solid and not melty. My entire life I’ve been told that my clothes don’t match and then here comes LuLaRoe. They encourage pattern mixing and crazy prints and colors. I’m over here like I’ve been trying to show you how cool these crazy patterns and colors are for years now. I’m glad the rest of the world (well a lot of people) are finally on board with pattern mixing. I feel like I’ve been trying to get these weird trends going for years now or at least getting people to accept my personal style and now it’s finally happening. People are embracing and celebrating their inner wacky style and I love it. And one more note…If one more person tells me that $25 is too much for leggings I am going to hand them a mirror, turn them around, and let them see their underwear shinning through their $15 dollar leggings. And for someone who doesn’t really like to wear jeans, $25 isn’t that much for what is essentially a replacement for them in my particular wardrobe.

I told myself I wouldn’t buy Valentine’s leggings and that holiday leggings were ridiculous, but I was having a rough day and I was perusing some online groups for what was maybe a little bit of a retail therapy session. There they were. The red leggings with white hearts. The only Valentine’s leggings that I’d seen that I really liked. I didn’t have to fight for them. They were just there and no one had claimed them yet. I made myself wait 5 minutes. Was I being ridiculous? While I was waiting I came across an oversized black and white stripe classic t-shirt. This was actually something I’d been looking for for about 2 months. I didn’t feel ridiculous about quickly typing sold in that comment box. I’d been waiting on that. Then I realized how cute of a pattern mix that top and those leggings would be, so I bought them both. My best friend informed me that it had been a full moon and she had done some retail therapy that night too. Maybe it was the moon, maybe it was my blue feelings, or maybe it was just the most adorable outfit fell onto my computer screen and I hadn’t done anything for myself in a while. Either way I scored both items.

They arrived and I was super happy with my decision. As I was digging around my craft supplies I found a black and white stripe maxi skirt that I had purchased for $3 at a thrift store. It was super cute, but a size small. I mainly got it for the fabric, but when I saw it I knew it would be a part of my Valentine’s outfit. I would use it to make a long vest that is similar to the LuLaRoe style joy. I don’t own a joy because they are mainly lace and I’m not a huge fan of lace vests. It’s odd because I love lace.

(Please forgive my pictures in this post. They were all taken on my phone and not with a camera. Also, it’s really hard to see the details on such a dark piece.)

bw1Here it was in the beginning. Pretty simple. Basically a straight skirt with a roll down waist. It was soft and stretchy and perfect for my vision.

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The first thing I did was remove the waist band. Then I cut the skirt all the was down the front. Here it is laid all out on the floor.

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I used a vest I already had to help measure where I wanted the arm holes to go. I actually cut the holes bigger than the original vest because I wanted this one to be a little bit baggier and looser of a fit.

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This is what it looked like after I cut the arm holes. Now onto some sewing…

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I started by finishing the edge that would be the opening in the front. I turned the hem under and sewed all the way down the front (where the red lines are). Make sure if you are sewing with stretchy fabric you use a stitch that will stretch. I use a zig-zag stitch and a needle specifically for stretchy fabric. At this point I could have turned the arm holes under and sewed them, but I waited. It may have been easier at this point.  On the diagram there are two purple circles. These are around the fabric that will be the front of the vest. I wanted this fabric to be ruffled. I sewed a straight seam across the small section and pulled the thread to scrunch the fabric.

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After I scrunched the fabric, I lined up the top of the vest at the shoulders. I sewed the pieces together and created the shape of the top.

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Next I turned under all the fabric around the arm hole and sewed it down. I also did the same for the back of the neck creating a bit of a rounded edge.

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To finish this vest I wanted it to have 2 slits in the sides that went to the hip. I used a seam ripper to take out the current seem and then just folded the fabric down and sewed along both sides to finish it off.

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Here is a side by side of the before and after. I think I will get a lot of use out of this transformed piece.

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I really liked this vest with my 2 LuLaRoe pieces I had purchased to wear for Valentine’s day. Not too many things are better than black and white stripes, but I think 2 sets of stripes is pretty snazzy!

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Check out my date for the day. This girl is my love!!! In true girl fashion she insisted on me buying her dinner for the holiday. Honey please! I buy your dinner every day.

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Feeling a little something-something in this vest. A little feisty-ness perhaps.

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And of course a kiss to send you off. I hope you had the most lovely of Valentine’s days. I hope the day was filled with love, hugs, kisses, candy, and kindness. I love you all!

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Carolina Girl-Game Day Ready

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In my last post I had made a dress out of one of my dad’s old shirts. I wore it to church last Sunday and had tons of compliments. Some of those even came from people who hadn’t seen the blog post or known that I had made it. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel good when someone compliments my outfit, and it makes me feel even better when the compliment is directed at something that I have crafted myself! I really loved wearing it. It is super comfortable, but not sloppy. It was a little bit structured and a little bit loose and still had some girly elements to it.

I had an event coming up (which has past now because I just got home from it) and I wasn’t planning on making anything to wear. I didn’t really think I had time and I figured I could just wear something I already had. But like always…the crazy kicked in and I knew, while I was at church, I wanted to make another of these dresses to wear. I left church, checked the time, and hurried over to the thrift store. I knew exactly what I wanted. Well, almost exactly. I knew it needed to be a shirt that was carolina blue and big. They had exactly what I needed, and I actually headed home with 2 shirts.

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Here we have the 2 lovely shirts. Please ignore the wet hair and pretend I look decent in this photo. I was on a time crunch and had to take the photos when I could.

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First things first – cut off the collars and the cuffs and store them for an awesome project one day. I actually have a whole little tote container of them. Let me know if you have any ideas. I’m still waiting on something great to pop into my head.

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I cut off the sleeves as close to the seam as possible as to save material. I didn’t take them time to seam rip it because I knew I would make a new arm hole anyways.

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I put the shirt on and determined where the new shoulder would be. I also put some pins under my arms to try and figure out where the bottom of the new arm hole was going to be. This is honestly the hardest part because….men’s shirts have gigantic arm holes and women do not typically have quite as giant arms or need as much room. The smaller you make the arm hole the tighter you are making the shirt across your chest. It’s not too bad for me because I don’t have much in the front to consider, but I also didn’t want the shirt bulging open at the buttons. Unfortunately I didn’t make them the correct size. I pulled the shirt too tight, but keep reading and you will eventually see the solution.

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After marking the new arm holes I cut the seams down the sides of the shirt. I used the cut off sleeves to create a new more feminine sleeve. It attaches more at an angle instead of straight out and has more of a curved line than a men’s sleeve would.

After the sleeves were sewn to the shirt I then sewed the sides back together all the way down. I sewed on an angle down the side of the shirt so the bottom of the dress would still be full and the top more fitted. It I guess was kind of an a-line.

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I used fabric from the other shirt to create a cuff for the new sleeves. It just gave it a cute little finished touch on the sleeve and some contrast.

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Because button down shirts are curved at the bottom they make awfully short dresses when you hem them straight across. I used fabric from the other shirt to add a few inches of length to the bottom of the dress. I loved the blue and white accents on the bottom and on the sleeves.

After I finished the bottom. I finished the neck line by just turning it under and stitching it down. I worked great on the last shirt dress and this one also.

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Here is the finished project. The event was a Carolina Tar Heels football game and my dad’s fraternity reunion weekend. (I’m sorry for the quality of this picture. I took it in the hotel room and thought it looked fine until it was on my computer and it didn’t look very fine at all, but it’s the only fully body pic I took this day.) I wanted to make a dress for this because I knew it would be a hot day and a dress would be cool and comfy. You can see that my solution the the tight armpit holes was to just add a tank underneath and leave a few buttons open. I like how it turned out and I even liked how it looked with open buttons at the top.

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This dress went great with morning Bloody Mary’s…

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And this dress also went well with afternoon pre-game beers!

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We made it to the game and I took a stadium selfie to prove it. It was hot and I was a little sweaty at this point, but feeling comfy in my dress. I did sneak in a little nap during the 2nd quarter. Football is long and I was tired from partying with the guys from the night before. You might not should be jamming to Janis Joplin with your dad’s fraternity brothers at 2:15 in the morning when you know you have a long day the next day. It was fun though!

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Here is one last picture to prove that I was actually at a live sporting event since at least one person was convinced that I would not go. Haha. Maybe I shouldn’t tell people how much I dislike sports. I’m not big on sports at all but this entire weekend was great and even the game was fun. It’s always more fun when you win!

Ole Little Red Bird

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This project has been on my mind for a looooooonnnnngggg time! This is not a finished project and will never be finished. It will hopefully be an ongoing process that I keep around for way longer than I’ve been thinking about it. I opened a shop on Etsy recently. For years people have told me that I should try to sell things on Etsy. I have really been intrigued by the process of this online marketplace since I first heard about it when I was in college. There were so many parts of it that seemed so simple, but there were other things that made me feel very apprehensive. Shipping scared me, and it still does. I think it might take me a while to figure out the best way for me, but living approximately 2 minutes from the post office eases my nerves a little bit. Then there is also always nerves about how people will receive your creations. Will they be good enough to sell? Will people like them? Will they be comparable to other sellers items, but be unique enough to be purchased? Will they be priced fairly? etc…… I think those fears will probably never totally go away for any artisan. I have also really, really had to think about the finances of this thing and what was the best way to keep up with everything and make the most of what I had. I know all the kinks aren’t worked out and I’m sure I will find unseen problems along the way, but it’s a process, not a final project.

After I finally convinced myself (with a little help from some people who love me) that this was a good idea I had to figure out exactly what I wanted to sell. I’m a little bit all over the place with what I like to make. I bounce around and try all different kinds of projects, so I had to dig deep and determine what craft I would be willing to repeat over and over for a period of time and not get bored or want to abandon.

Ta-da I chose up-cycled children’s clothing. Up-cycling is economical for cost of goods, it’s good for the environment because you are using someone else’s waste, and it constantly forces creativity. This way I would not technically ever have to make the same thing more than once, and if you’ve been around enough you know I get tired of making the same thing over and over again. It’s also a constantly evolving field with trends changing seasonally so I will have wiggle room to create lots of things. I do hope that this grows and evolves and becomes more than just children’s clothing and accessories, but for now I think it’s a good place for me to be in.

Next I needed a name. Maybe that didn’t happen totally next but it did eventually have to happen. I ended up with “Ole Little Red Bird”. There is a song called “Winter’s Come and Gone” and it starts like this:

Oh, little red bird come to my window sill Been so lonesome, shaking that morning chill Oh, little red bird open your mouth and say Been so lonesome, just about flown away

So long now I’ve been out In the rain and snow But winter’s come and gone A little bird told me so

I love this folk song for many reasons. It always seems to give me comfort if I’m feeling bad about anything because it’s a reminder that you can move on from whatever is happening. The red bird brings good news of times changing. In some round about way it can be applied to my clothing too because the old worn clothing/fabrics are gone and are turned into new items just like the winter turns into the beautiful new spring. With the combination of lyrics from this song and conversation with my sister the name became “Ole Little Red Bird”. Just think of a fat old red bird bringing you good news and good clothes.

I had been collecting supplies for a while now so I did some more shopping and started creating. I would wake up early and stay up late washing supplies, making patterns, researching, and sewing. All these cute little things were starting to appear in my house, but I still had other things to do.
Luckily my sister and her husband are really great friends with an amazing Graphic Designer/Artist. I had ideas of what I wanted, but he made them amazing. After a few emails with poorly drawn and cut and paste art he created this banner for the top of my Etsy shop.
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He also created this button, which ended up being the tags in my clothes.

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They make fabric that you can print on. How freaking cool is that?  I got mine at Hobby Lobby, but I’m guessing it’s at multiple craft stores. That is what I used to make the tags and then I sewed them into the clothing.

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There is my tag in a skirt. I was so extremely proud after I sewed this first one in. It seemed so official and professional. It felt more like a real thing at this point than it did at any other time.

I still have have so much to do, or that can be done. I still have items that haven’t been listed or photographed. I’ve already started thinking about what I need to make for the fall season, and I think I’m behind on that part. This is just a side thing, but and important side thing. A side thing that makes me smile really big. I do wish I could be a little more super girl like and do 500 things at once. Or maybe I need a time travel device so I could keep going back and giving myself extra work time. The thing thats good about Etsy is that you can have as much or as little in your shop as you want, so I don’t feel as pressured with needing inventory right this moment.

Please wish me luck and hope that people will buy my stuff. It might seem like junk to some people, but I think it’s very cute junk! I’m very thankful to all the people who pushed me to do this!

Scalloped Potato Shirt

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I have a confession. There is actually no potatoes involved in this post, but the shirt does have a scalloped design and it makes me think of potatoes.

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This is one of the few times I had a plan when I purchased an item. I thought this would make a cute tank, but once I started working it took a little more time than anticipated. I’m not sure why this before picture is so blurry and crazy looking, so sorry for that, but the shirt really isn’t all that horrible. It has some great elements.

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I started the same way I often do. I removed the shoulder pads and the sleeves with a seam ripper.

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I then took a little more fabric out of the shoulders so it wouldn’t be such a boxy tank top. I then finished the arm holes. They were a little ruffle-y looking, so I ironed them down and it took care of most of the problem.

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I used chalk to draw where I would cut out the back of the shirt. It was just a rough sketch at this point, but I made sure I cut in smooth lines. After I cut, I turned it under and sewed it down.

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Here is where the problem always lies. I don’t know why I can’t get it though my thick skull that if I buy a big shirt to turn into a tank, the arm hole will be too big. Lucky for me this time, the shirt was large enough around that I could take it in under the arm pits. I tried to make a smooth transition with the already existing seam. It was getting better, but the arm holes were still a little ruffle-y looking.

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To get rid of the last bit of ruffle in the arm hole I put a dart on each side where I am pointing to. At this point I had to figure out what to do to the back. The front of the shirt was so much heavier than the back it was pulling it forward. I added a strip of fabric across the very top back of the shirt. It is attached with a hook and eye on one side you you can get in and out of it.

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Here is the final product. I’m not going to lie it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever made. This material is slippery and it likes to move when you try to sew. Some of my seams look more like snakes than lines, so you aren’t allowed to inspect this shirt when I wear it.

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I think it also looks pretty good with my pink faux leather jacket that I got for super cheap because I purchased it in the middle of the summer. Can you tell I’m already ready for fall. I think it might be my favorite season, and I think that is because fall clothes are my favorite. I’m so ready to put all my layers back on and start wearing scarves again. Lucky for me I now have this cute tank to layer. I think it would also look great with leggings and a cardigan.

Cutest Little Farmer

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Like most small towns, mine too has a wonderful little holiday that seems a little silly from the outside, but super fun from the inside. It’s called Farmer’s Day. Vendors set up on Main Street to sell various handmade goods, to pass out water bottles, and to show off farm equipment. There is all kinds of junky fair food, but the kettle corn and homemade ice creme are my favorites. Bands and singers play all day on 2 stages. It’s basically just a fun little small town festival like thing and everyone in town comes because it’s tradition.

At one point during the day they have a “Cutest LIttle Farmer” Contest. And I’m sure you know that tater-tot had to be entered. And I’m sure you know that means I got put to work on the outfit. Alex, my sister, kind of picked out some things she liked, we adventured to the fabric store, then we adventured to some thrift stores, and then I got put to work.

I started with a pair of denim overhauls. I cut off the bottom and then began making a skirt. There were 3 layers. The top was a red bandana. I found the center of the bandana and cut a circle that was the size of the bottom of the overhauls. The second layer was cow print fabric. I cut a big circle and then a circle in the middle for the waist. At this point I layered to 2 together and sewed them to the overhauls. Then I made a tutu out of red tulle for underneath. It had about 6 layers of fluff attached under there. Then there were the details that include me making little tucks in the bandana at 4 places to draw in the top to little points and adding lots of white and black polka dot bows.

Farmer's Day Costume

It turned out to be one of those things that I can’t decide if it’s super tacky or super cute. I think maybe it’s both.

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There were ruffle bloomers to go underneath. I don’t have a surger so I used a zig zag stitch on the edge to create the red border. I went over it twice. It looks a little crazy up close, but from far away you can’t really tell.

charley cowWell, tater-tot won. I think it might have had a little something to do with the fact that she sat on a rubber cow and bounced like she was riding it. I had to steal this picture because I was too busy laughing to take one of my own. I may be biased, but I do think she made an adorable little farmer. Now just because she was super cute and won doesn’t mean I will help my sister do anything to put her in real pageants. I’m not saying they are bad, I’m just saying I’m not a huge fan and don’t want to be sucked in to making lots of outfits that aren’t of my choosing.

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Here I am with the little farmer. She deserved a cookie because riding a cow is hard work.

Navy Blue Polka Dot Shorts

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Family pictures can be really good or really bad. My family decided to take family pictures at the beach during our vacation. I thought, “Please don’t make me purchase khakis and a white button down shirt.” Thankfully white and khaki wasn’t the color scheme. I know plenty of people do it and they have lovely beach pictures, but I’m just not a huge fan. Tater tot had gotten a gorgeous white smocked dress with with blue sail boats on it so the color scheme was white, navy, and an almost carolina blue color. Well guess what, no store on the freaking planet had anything white and navy for me to wear. That’s what it seemed like. I didn’t go to a bazillion stores or anything, but I was a little on a time crunch to get my stuff together before the trip. I decided to hit up my local thrift store (don’t know why I didn’t do that first). I got lucky. I found a perfect white shirt and some navy and white polka dot giant mamaw pants with huge legs and pleats.

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They are actually quite disgusting, but I swear this was the only navy pant I could find that even kind of fit me. I removed the waist band and seam ripped out all of the pleats. I cut off some of the length so it was easier to work with. I made the legs smaller by taking a seam up both sides. Then to bring in the waist I made darts instead of pleats. I ripped out the back seam and installed an invisible zipper. This might be easier if one day I actually read the instructions on how to do this instead of guessing. I then created a wide waist band out of excess leg fabric and iron-on interfacing. After I attached the new waist band to the top I used hook and eyes to make a closure. I’m not a huge fan of hook and eyes but they were already at my house, which means they were free. Lastly I decided on a length and hemmed the bottoms.

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Here are my cute little retro blouse-y polka dot shorts. I think they will be perfect for beach pictures.

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Here is the back. You can kind of see the zipper and hook and eyes.

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There I am all ready for the picture. I added a belt on top of the shorts and borrowed a navy necklace from my sweet boss because I couldn’t find any matching jewelry either. Navy must not be a popular color this summer.

Thrifting Tips & Sweaters

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When I go to a thrift store there are a few different things I’m usually looking for. The first thing I’m always looking for is crafting supplies. As you’ve probably figured out by now I love buying “ugly” clothes and up-cycling them into one of a kind unique pieces. The second thing I’m looking for is clothing, that either doesn’t have to be altered or needs minimal alterations. So basically clothes for me or others that are currently in style and in good condition. I am also always looking for a good stuffed animal for my pup to chew on and I always look through the trinket-y things even though I don’t frequently purchase those types of things. Shoes and pants are about impossible to fit on my correctly so I usually just don’t look for those at the thrift store. I’ve been lucky in the past, but I know a store where the jeans always fit so sometimes I just buckle down and go to the mall *gasp* I know, who even shops at the mall anymore?

Thrift shopping is not like shopping at the mall. There aren’t multiple things in different sizes and the organization isn’t always there, but I have a few tips for you.

Be patient and give yourself time. You will have to look at a lot of junk before you find your diamond. I suggest looking at every single thing on the rack. Like before, I said I don’t even look at pants, and I move much quicker when I’m looking at skirts, but when it comes to shirts and dresses, I look at each one on the rack. I try not to take too long on each item. Just push through quickly so you can get and idea of size, color, fabric, name brand, or whatever you are looking for. This can take a while, don’t try to take on the whole store in 30 minutes. It will stress you out. I basically pick up everything that I kind of like, throw it in a buggy, and sort through it later.

Take a friend. I go with my sister. It makes sorting through each item go quicker. We just pick up cute things in each others sizes and try them on at the end. We do make a mess, but we always make sure things get back on the hangers and back on a rack to be returned to the floor. Just because it’s a thrift store doesn’t mean you should trash it.

Go prepared. There is one store that always gives me a headache so I make sure I take a drink with me and some ibuprofen. There are some stores without dressing rooms so I like to wear leggings and a fitted tops so I can try on clothes over what I’m wearing.

Give yourself a budget and only buy things you truly want or can use. This keeps me from buying too much stuff. I have a bad habit of saying this is only 50 cent I will use it for something and then I have so many “supplies” that I don’t know what to do with myself.

Go on sale days. Yes, thrift stores have sale days! My favorite is half off day. I think tons of thrift stores have these types of days. So, yes, it will be mass chaos on these days, but I think it’s totally worth it.

My last kind of tip for the day is don’t be afraid to buy out of season. People tend to clean out their closet after a season, so things go to the thrift store at odd times, but you can getter better deals. Over the past month I have found the cutest sweaters. They are priced a little bit cheaper since it is a billion degrees outside, but I love them and I know I will wear them in the fall.

Check out a few of my most recent sweater goodies, and don’t be too jealous.

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Clockwise from top left corner:

1. I don’t know much about this one because the tag is cut out. It is gray with the cutest beaded peter pan collar on it. I paid $1.25

2. Merona sweater, wich is a Target name brand. It’s tan with cool coppery studs. I believe I paid $2

3. BDG sweater. I know nothing about this name brand, but this sweater is amazing. It’s tan and blue with the best sleeve detail ever. I paid $1.75

4. Elle sweater dress. It has a liner underneath too. I can wait to add a belt and boots in the fall. I paid $1.75

All of these are like new and in really amazing condition. My fall wardrobe is looking pretty good and summer has only just begun. If you are patient and willing to buy out of season you will be one lucky duck.